MAP launches campaign vs children malnutrition

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The Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) has laid out initiatives that will complement the Philippine Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Project (PMNP) as the business group aims to contribute to the improvement of the overall nutritional status of Filipino children.

“As a business group, we can have greater impact acting collectively in the fight against malnutrition and child stunting,” MAP President Benedicta Du-Baladad said at a media briefing held in Taguig City on Wednesday.

Du-Baladad also noted that MAP hopes to expand its role beyond “fund generation and philanthropy to a shared responsibility in addressing malnutrition in the country, participating in the programming and governance of nutrition strategies and interventions.”

The PMNP, which was crafted with the funding aid from the World Bank, is a “multisectoral community participatory approach,” which aims to address the “multi-faceted” problem of malnutrition.

The P10-billion World Bank-funded malnutrition reduction program will be implemented by local government units (LGUs), the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), National Nutrition Council, and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST)-Food and Nutrition Research Institute.

In line with this, Du-Baladad unveiled the business group’s initiatives to back the multi-sectoral nutrition project, which are “captured in three main tracks”—Educate, Encourage and Engage.

Under the Educate initiative, the MAP head said the business group will work with the academe and health sector so they can contribute to providing advice, guidance and technical assistance to the “real target population”—the mothers, families, and the communities.

Under the Encourage initiative of MAP, Du-Baladad said the business group aims to push for policy reforms and legislations that will “holistically” address malnutrition and child stunting, which she said will also help create longer-term solutions to “embed” nutrition as a continuing agenda for national development.

Under the Engage goal, the MAP head said the business group aims to “engage businesses and other sectors to help address the crisis through responsible practices and choices—from producing and providing nutritious choices, to the conduits that actually go on the ground to implement, to those that can track, evaluate and monitor progress of implementation, and to the national and local authorities who are mandated to undertake and oversee the implementation of these meaningful programs.” Du-Baladad underscored the importance of addressing malnutrition in the country as it “affects our business.” She said, “If everybody is stunted, where can we get our workforce or what is the quality of work. It’s about national development. It’s about economic development. So we are not just looking down, we are acting now to prevent something to happen in the future.”

For his part, Cielito F. Habito, Governor-in-Charge for MAP’s Cluster on Resilience and Recovery, emphasized the long-term impact of malnutrition and stunting on the country’s readiness as it enters the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

“The urgency is so much because we all know how we are entering what they call the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the age of it, the age of artificial intelligence, AI, and if we will be ill equipped even if we had the numbers in terms of workforce, but they are ill equipped to take on the kinds of work demanded by this fourth industrial revolution,” Habito, a former socio-economic planning secretary during the Ramos administration, said.

According to the World Bank, the Philippines has one of the worst cases of child stunting in the world, ranking fifth with the highest stunting prevalence among countries in the East Asia and Pacific Region, and is among the 10 worst countries in the world.

Citing the World Health Organization (WHO), MAP said the health group clarified that stunting is a growth and development impairment of children resulting from poor nutrition, repeated infection and inadequate psychosocial stimulation.

“When this happens specifically during the first 1000 days from birth to 2 years of age, it can lead to adverse consequences that will limit a child’s ability to reach his full mental, physical and economic potential,” MAP said in a statement on Wednesday.